Athanasi (Arthur) Stavrou Comino, born on the Greek island of Kythera in 1880. His brother John S. Comino moved to Australia in 1901, and worked in Sydney and Lismore in New South Wales before moving to Queensland and buying a cafe in Bundaberg. Around 1903 John was joined by three of his brothers, including Arthur Comino. Two more brothers arrived in 1908, but in 1912 Arthur and Peter, who were still listed as Greek Army reservists, left to fight in the First Balkan War.
In 1919 Arthur married Marigoula (Mary) Comino on Kythera, and they moved back to Australia in 1921. Mary and Arthur ran the Central Cafe in Laidley for 25 years and raised their four children there. When visiting friends at Redcliffe in 1922 Arthur fell in love with the place and began looking for an investment opportunity. In September 1938 he purchased 1 rood 24 perches (1,600 m2) of land on the site of the present Comino's Arcade, which at that time included the Moreton Vista boarding house.
The Pier Theatre was located immediately to the south. Arthur planned to move the boarding house back from the street, and then build some shops with living quarters for the family above. However, on 26th June 1941, the Moreton Vista boarding house, the adjacent one-room Embassy fish shop, and two other shops were destroyed by an early morning fire.
The Comino family: left to right, Queenie, Mary Comino, Arthur Coming, Stella, Stephen and Betty.
While constructing the new building, Arthur Comino would leave their Laidley cafe on Mondays with their weeks takings, drive to Redcliffe where he paid the workers in cash and stayed on the job until Friday, when he would return to Laidley to repeat the exercise every week. he never borrowed money for its construction.
In December 1946 Redcliffe's first nightclub, "The Ace of Clubs", was opened in the ballroom by Bob and May Borradale. A 1949 advertisement for the arcade touted the "Panorama Dance Palais" for weddings, dances and parties. The Acropoly Cafe and Milk Bar was also advertised, along with "modern flats and rooms". The bedrooms were later rented as offices.
The first floor contained the family's flat along with serviced bedrooms, and the second floor contained more serviced bedrooms, set around a ballroom with a terrazzo floor. The provision of holiday accommodation was consistent with Redcliffe's history as a seaside resort, and the building was effectively a combination of a boarding house, an arcade, and a Greek cafe with an associated ballroom. Initially the building was named the Acropolis Building. During the war the cafe was packed with service personnel and soon after opening Arthur built the kitchen and was able to provide meals. The family moved into the first floor flat in 1946, having sold their cafe in Laidley.
Tragically Arthur died in December 1949 as a result of a fall from a ladder while working on his arcade.
The arcade's extension through to Sutton Street, designed by Colin Tannett and erected by local builder Jim Fortune, was finished in 1968 and was officially opened by the Post-Master General, the Federal Member for Petrie, Alan Hulme.
Members of the Comino family jointly owned the original arcade until 2003
The Comino building was added to the Queensland Heritage Register on 6th March 2009.
(The arcade through to Suttons St is not listed on the register)
A full history of the Cominos Arcade is at the following link:
Arthur and Mary Comino are listed on the wall of the Redcliffe Wall of Fame:
A collection of portrait and information honouring the achievements of individuals who have influenced and shaped Redcliffe. The collection is in the Jetty Arcade at 139-141 Redcliffe Parade.
For a complete list of people who appear on the wall click on the following blog post: